Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Hawaii volcano belches new ash plume as geothermal wells secured from harm

Hawaii volcano belches new ash plume as geothermal wells secured from harm

Blue flames are the latest natural phenomena being seen at the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano.

Methane gas from vegetation buried by lava burned blue as it erupted through cracks on Kahukai Street in Leilani Estates early Wednesday.

Scientists in Hawaii have captured rare images of blue flames burning from cracks in the pavement as the Kilauea volcano gushes fountains of lava in the background, offering insight into a new dimension in the volcano's weeks-long eruption.

There are now three lava flows entering the ocean between Pohoiki Bay and MacKenzie State Park (Highway 137 mile markers 12 to 14).

Lava edged towards a geothermal power plant on Tuesday after destroying an old warehouse near the facility, County of Hawaii Civil Defense said.

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Despite the seemingly steady stream of hazards, officials in a state that relies heavily on tourism are reiterating a message: "Travel is safe to the Hawaiian islands".

In Pahoa, just a few miles from the lava flow, Nathan came across Robert Carton, who was was seeking information about his father's home, which was evacuated weeks ago and may very well be lost.

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant.

Hawaii officials have said they may need to carry out a mass evacuation if lava crosses key highways and isolates communities in the mostly rural part of the island where the Kilauea volcano is erupting.

Officials are trying to prevent possible explosions or the release of toxic fumes by "quenching" most of the wells, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Thomas Travis said. The plant provides 25 percent of the electricity to the Big Island.

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Those living in communities southwest of the Kilauea volcano are warned that wind might carry ash their way after the eruption Thursday night.

The middle portion of the fissure system (centered on Pohoiki Rd.) continues to produce the most robust eruptive activity in the Lower East Rift Zone.

Due to frequent ash emissions at the Kilauea summit and increased sulfur dioxide emissions, residents should take action to limit exposure. One man was seriously injured after being hit by a flying piece of lava. Historic reports and geologic remnants suggest the locals were overwhelmed by a pyroclastic blast - a surging mass of gas and volcanic rock.

When hot lava hits the ocean, it can form a nasty product called laze - a mashup of "lava" and "haze" - and send hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air.

'We are kind of in this steady state, ' said Wendy Stovall, a scientist at the US Geographical Survey.

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